Bird of the Week

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Photo courtesy Ben Bailey

This week’s Bird of the Week, compliments of the Weminuche Audubon Society and Audubon Rockies, is the Lewis’ woodpecker.
The Lewis’ woodpecker shares many physical traits of other woodpeckers, but this woodpecker doesn’t peck wood. Instead of drilling holes to harvest insects, the Lewis’ woodpecker hunts by catching insects on the wing just like flycatchers. It doesn’t drill holes to cache acorns for the winter like its cousin, the acorn woodpecker.
The Lewis’ instead stores acorns in natural crevices in trees. The Lewis’ woodpecker doesn’t pound out cavities in trees for nesting. It chooses already-existing nesting cavities.
This woodpecker’ namesake is Meriwether Lewis of the famous Lewis and Clark expedition. This stunning, rosy-chested woodpecker has a black back that glimmers a deep shade of emerald green in the sunlight. The cheeks are blushed with red and clean lines create a collar of gray feathers.
We are very lucky here in Pagosa Country to have a hearty population of these birds as they are uncommon throughout the U.S. They are a local mascot, easy to find and a signature of our town. We are more likely to notice a lack of sightings, as most outings include ample time with the Lewis’. Lewis’ woodpeckers can be found throughout the year downtown along the Riverwalk and throughout the neighborhoods and the rural areas surrounding town. They are found in ponderosa pine forests and also inhabit cottonwood groves near streams.
For local bird-watching events, visit www.weminucheaudubon.org and www.facebook.com/weminucheaudubon/.